For the first time in history, Palestine voted as a member of the Assembly of States Parties, a meeting of the members of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It was an emotional day for Palestine’s ambassador, Nabil Abuznaid.
“It’s emotional to be here and to have State of Palestine – for the first time – written on my desk. This is really big for Palestine. Today was a special day: to vote for the first time, to elect an ICC judge.
“I have been referred to as Palestinian observer, Palestinian authority, Palestine Liberation Organisation. To be called State of Palestine in an international organization is new. It’s a good feeling not to be outside but amongst the civilised nations.
“Many people looked at me and shared there happiness, saying: ‘Wow, you’re closer now. This is a step towards towards the state. Congratulations!’ So I have received lots of smiles, lots of congratulations.
“I was a student in the United States in the 1970s when Palestinians were known for hijacking planes. When I gave a lecture about the situation in my country – after the occupation of the West Bank in 1967 – people would say: ‘throw the terrorist out!
“No one would let you speak. American students demonstrated against us ‘terrorists’. It has been a struggle, my journey from being considered a terrorist to the sign on my desk that says State of Palestine.
“One day, there was a bomb in my office building. It was placed by a Jewish radical group. I was working for the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Washington. Fortunately, the bomb did not explode. On my path for peace I could have lost my life.
“Today I feel closer than ever to a Palestine State. All these people at the Assembly of States Parties, I would like to be one of them. Each of them has a state, has a country. I would like to be like anyone else.
“All these years were not easy. People did not want to understand your cause. But today was welcoming. It’s was a change.”
(Photo: Sophie van Leeuwen/Justice Hub)